Image credit: Seafood Guide
Japan’s Toyosu Market has seen a 50% decrease in sales thanks to COVID-19
(SOURCE: Seafood Guide, 22nd April 2020)
COVID-19 in Japan has spread, and the Toyosu market in Tokyo, which moved from the original Tsukiji market, has seen a 50% decrease in sales.
This has been caused from a sharp decline of foreign tourists visiting to Japan, the decline in demand for catering, seafood and other high-end ingredients trading decreasing and prices plummeting. Compared with last year, prices for bluefin tuna is now halved. Some merchants (wholesale traders and restaurants) have begun to sell stocks through low online prices to find a way to cope with this dilemma.
‘The market price has decreased, the guests haven’t come. It’s almost dying.” Harada Hada (53 years old), owner of “Dali Shop”, a fish wholesaler at Toyosu Market, sighed.
According to Kyodo News, Dali Store has 50 to 60 kinds of high-end fresh fish on the menu such as scorpion fish and has customers from sushi and Japanese restaurants in Ginza and Akasaka. However, now affected by COVID-19, orders have been cancelled in succession since March, and overseas customers now left are those from Hong Kong. Although the workload of about 15 employees was streamlined and business continued, sales fell to about 20% compared to usual, and the company considered applying for a loan in case the business conditions deteriorated.
Harada said with all his strength: ‘This is the biggest invisible crisis. I hope our team will work together to overcome the difficulties.’
The weekly market of aquatic products in Toyosu Market (April 10th to 16th) shows that the average daily trading volume of seafood is 469 tons, a decrease of 30% compared with the same period last year. Among them, tuna is 19.7 tons, which is half that when compared with the previous year. The domestic wholesale price has been reduced to an average of 2,910 yen per kilogram (about A$40), which is almost 30% of the previous year.
The market began to ban visitors from the end of February. Non-market related persons are not allowed to use catering and the shops. In addition, the popular tuna auction show has been stopped.
On the other hand, the trend of opening the sales of slow-selling ingredients for ordinary diners is also expanding. Due to the declining demand for restaurants, e-commerce sites with an express site located downtown, sell remaining sea urchins, salmon roe and other ingredients at low prices.
The owner of the website operating company Hagiwara (58 years old) said: ‘Sometimes sales can reach about 10 times the usual, and the response is huge. The Toyosu market gathers the top food ingredients from around the world. If there are products that suffer from slow sales, I hope to sell them solidarity with the origin.’